The Weekend Warrior

The Weekend Warrior: October 9 - 11

Source: Edward Douglas
October 6, 2009

Greetings and welcome back to the Weekend Warrior, your weekly guide to the weekend's new movies. Tune in every Tuesday for the latest look at the upcoming weekend, and then check back on Thursday night for final projections based on actual theatre counts.

Saturday will be the 8th Anniversary of when Ye Olde Weekend Warrior first started writing this box office column under a different moniker that's almost embarrassingly accurate in hindsight. Normally, I'd write a full "Battle Cry" thanking everyone for the help getting this far, but instead, we'll try to keep this brief:

First of all, special thanks to my editor and boss Mirko Parlevliet, who has read through all 5,000 words every week for the past six and a half years and whose constant patience guarantees his future Sainthood. I can't forget beneficial providers of invaluable information and discussions of all things box office like Gitesh Pandya, Brandon Gray, Brent Lynch, Bruce Nash, Edward Havens, Tzukai Hung and everyone at the Hollywood Stock Exchange, and we can't forget the mysterious monkey-loving TruMan, who first thought it would be a good idea to allow me to write a box office column. But of course, most of all, thanks to all the readers who've glanced or scanned or read every single word I've written, sent me Email feedback or posted comments or their own predictions. I can't put into words how much I appreciate every single one of you, because knowing you're out there is sometimes the only thing that keeps me going when I hit the inevitable Wall of Burnout that hits anyone doing the same thing for so long. I don't say thanks enough to you all, so I'm glad that I get this chance at least once (or twice) a year.

Predictions and Comparisons -

1. Couples Retreat (Universal) - $27.2 million N/A

2. Zombieland (Sony) - $13.5 million -45%

3. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Sony) - $11.4 million -28%

4. Toy Story/Toy Story 2 (Disney/Pixar) - $7.5 million -40%

5. The Invention of Lying (Warner Bros.) - $3.9 million -47%

6. Surrogates (Disney/Touchstone) - $3.8 million -48%

7. Whip It (Fox Searchlight) - $2.8 million -40%

8. Capitalism: A Love Story (Overture Films) - $2.7 million -38%

9. Fame (MGM) - $2.5 million -47%

10. The Informant! (Warner Bros.) - $2.4 million -35%

Weekend Overview

You just know it must be the Weekend Warrior's birthday cause all of the studios in Hollywood decided to band together and get him the greatest gift ever by releasing just one movie this weekend! Hurray!

That one movie is the tropical vacation comedy Couples Retreat (Universal) that reunites Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau for the umpteenth time, this time with their longtime pal Peter Billingsley directing, It's a high concept situational comedy that pairs them with the likes of Kristen Bell, Malin Akerman and Jason Bateman, and it's just the type of humor that's able to appeal to a mass mainstream audience. While it might not open as big as some of Vaughn's summer or holiday releases--he doesn't have a Reese Witherspoon or Jennifer Aniston to help entice women--it should do decently enough for an October opening rather than following in the footsteps of Ben Stiller's bomb The Heartbreak Kid, which opened on the same weekend two years ago.

This weekend last year saw the release of four new movies though none of them could top Disney's unstoppable Beverly Hills Chihuahua, which remained ahead of everything else with $17.5 million in its second weekend. The horror remake Quarantine (Screen Gems) took second place with $14.2 million, surprising many by beating Ridley Scott's Body of Lies (Warner Bros.), starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, which opened with just $12.9 million. Universal had their second October bomb in a row with the football drama The Express, which opened with just $4.6 million in 2,808 theaters but it fared better than the fantasy City of Ember (Fox Walden), which opened outside the Top 10 with just $3.1 million in 2,000 theatres. The 10 grossed $80 million but unless the Vaughn-Favreau comedy does better than we expect, this weekend might end up doing just slightly less business.



THE BATTLE CRY

The last time I did one of these "Battle Cries" about Sony Pictures Classics, it led to all sorts of angry phone calls and Emails and such, which made me nervous about writing another one, this time about Sony Pictures i.e. the Big Kahunas, though this one is filled with nothing but love, appreciation and respect, so hopefully this one won't be as misunderstood as that one was.

This past weekend, Sony had another hit with the action-comedy Zombieland and as much I loved seeing a movie I liked do really well, what got me doubly excited was that (as mentioned last week), this was the third movie in a row from Sony made by first-time filmmakers--the other two are District 9 and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs--all of whom have gone against normal Hollywood traditions and obviously been allowed to do so by the studio to great success, both critically and commercially.

District 9, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Zombieland are not normally movies we see coming out of the studio system and the fact that two of them were made relatively inexpensively means they'll turn a profit, which is usually what most studios care about. That wouldn't seem to be the case here because otherwise, you wouldn't have seen actors like Sharlto Copley or Bill Hader or even Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg anchoring these movies. Two of those movies are even R-Rated, which some studios were immediately getting nervous about when Watchmen seemingly underdelivered, and yet both of those movies aren't gratuitous in their use of the rating. They probably *could* have been watered down to PG-13 (and other studios might have done so) but they just wouldn't have been as much fun. Two of them were completely original ideas based on well-explored genre archetypes, which succeeded based on their innovative approach, while with "Cloudy"... seriously, taking such a simple premise from a book and turning it into something so clever and funny for all ages, it really was just a great fun experience. I still hope to see that again soon.

In this day and age, where the big corporations are being really careful about everything they do and cutting back, it's just terrific to see a company like Sony taking chances on these filmmakers, allowing them to do their thing, which is to MAKE GOOD MOVIES. One would assume that any company spending money on a movie would have their input, but in those three cases, it doesn't seem like they've forced all the usual Hollywood tropes and cliches that tend to ruin the moviegoing experience into those movies. They then worked extra hard to get people into theaters to see those movies with sharp marketing campaigns, both using viral marketing ideas and just making really strong commercials. (Well, the trailers for "Cloudy" weren't great, but fortunately, word-of-mouth has been very strong on the movie once people see it.)

That's not to say that other studios haven't found their own new talent--generally, all of Universal's non-franchise movies have been somewhat daring--but often, studios like Warner Bros. will wait until a director has a couple movies under their belt before putting them on something that might get a wide release, and they're still very cautious with everything except setting the budgets, which tend to be way higher than they need to be, as proven by two of the movies above.

So yeah, you can trash Sony when they release movies like Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which was also cheap and profitable if less daring, but they're obviously doing something right up there and the success of their last three movies proves it without a shadow of a doubt.



Couples Retreat (Universal)
Starring Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman, Kristin Davis, Kristen Bell, Faizon Love, Kali Hawk, Jean Reno
Directed by Peter Billingsley (Ralphie from A Christmas Story, but also a well-established producer, having worked with Favreau and Vaughn for many years); Written by Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Dana Fox
Genre: Comedy
Rated PG-13
Tagline: "It may be paradise... but it's no vacation."
Plot Summary: Four couples from the Midwest travel together to a tropical island resort to have fun. While one of the couples is hoping the trip will help them save their marriage, the other three couples soon discover that the "couples therapy" offered by the resort is not optional.

Mini-Review: Another clear case where you can put a lot of very funny people into a movie together and still come out with something so abysmally unfunny you wonder how no one ever spoke up to question whether the premise was strong enough to sustain an ensemble cast the way "Couples Retreat" attempts to do. If it were just about Vince Vaughn and Malin Akerman's couple being thrown into wacky tropical vacation situations, it might not have been so bad, but the movie tries to juggle four concurrent storylines. The couple who starts the snowball rolling are Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell's overly anal organizer who realizing that divorce is in their future, convince the three other couples to go with them to the tropical resort of Eden with the understanding they'll be working on their relationship while the others have fun. As one might expect, the best laid plans fall apart and soon all of the relationships are being tested.

At this point, Vaughn has turned into Will Ferrell, a caricature of himself who constantly resorts to doing the same schtick he's done in every other movie over and over; this time his whiny rants aren't funny and he gets annoying very fast. At its core, the writing is pretty awful with Vaughn and Favreau trying hard to get laughs by recreating the patter they made famous in "Swingers" even though they only have one strong scene together. Akerman has proven she can be just as funny as any guy in some of her past movies, but here she's wasted in a weaker role, along with most of the women who are clearly there to look great in bikini and underwear scenes opposite their schlubby out-of-shape male counterparts. There is no heavy lifting going on here as everyone involved basically does the same thing they've done before, and there are very few surprises as everything follows along a clear path that one might expect. It's one of those comedies where the funniest moments are given away in the commercials and what's left isn't so special.

The movie also tries to be raunchy with a couple scenes involving Favreau trying to get his rocks off though it never goes far enough; the arc for Favreau and his miscast wife in Kristen Davis is essentially a one-note one-joke gag about them trying to hook up with other people. An extended gag involving masseuses of the opposite sex never pays off. The only member of the cast who actually gets some solid laughs and comes out of the movie fairly unscathed is Faizon Love as Shane, a fat divorcee who ends up bringing his squeaky-voiced 20-year-old girlfriend to Eden in hopes of getting over his wife.

Beyond the eight leads, we have various other actors showing up to briefly interact with them. Jean Reno's insulting Mr. Marcel gets tiring almost immediately after he's introduced. Carlos Ponce plays Salvadore, a buffed-up Fabio-looking yoga trainer who spends his segment molesting his students, male and female alike. It's somewhat funny but he returns later for an unnecessary and unsatisfying callback. The two most recognizable therapists are played by John Michael Higgins, who isn't even remotely funny maybe for the first time ever, and Ken Jeong, who once again pulls the "angry doctor" trick out of his hat.

Things take an ugly turn in the second half of the movie as everyone (as per the formula) start squabbling and there's a notable shift in tone for the worse, the low point being one of the most ridiculous scenes of the year: a Guitar Hero "shoot out" between Vaughn and the island's version of Mr. Rourke, played by the usually funnier Peter Serafinowicz.

Unfortunately, most of the blame for this unfunny mess must be pinned on first-time director Peter Billingsley, who has been doing such a great job behind-the-scenes on Vaughn and Favreau's previous collaborations, but here, it feels as if he allowed his cast to dominate and overrun the script, rather than tightening the reins. The results are a formulaic cookiecutter comedy that isn't even elevated by the music of Oscar winner A.R. Rahman, which merely adds to the cheesiness of the more saccharine moments.

"Couples Retreat" offers nothing new to the tropical vacation comedy, and with so many comic brains at work, it's surprising not even the funniest bits from the commercials really stack up to much of the cast's weakest work to date. The end result is another moronic comedy that can probably be used as a litmus test for couples to see if they're really compatible, and God help us all if there are two people out there who walk away from this movie fully satisfied.

Rating: 4.5/10

Analysis:

On October 18, 1996, Miramax Films released a movie called Swingers that would introduce the world to Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, two talented guys who ten years later would be huge Hollywood players. While the latter decided to spend more time behind the camera, Vaughn has gone on to become one of the top comedy box office draws on par with the Will Ferrells and Adam Sandlers. This week's single release, the high concept comedy Couples Retreat, is the culmination of many years of the friendship between the two guys. They're also once again working alongside the third side of that triangle, Peter Billingsley, the former child actor, best known for his role as Ralphie in the beloved holiday classic A Christmas Story, who has gone on to produce some of their biggest hits, including The Break-Up and last year's Four Christmases. This time, Billingsley is behind the camera, making his debut as a director.

After breaking out in Swingers, Vaughn appeared in a number of thrillers and dramas, including starring as Norman Bates in Gus Van Sant's Psycho remake and in the blockbuster sequel The Lost World: Jurassic Park, but the director who recognized the Comedy Power of Vince and took advantage of it was Todd Phillips who cast Vaughn opposite Will Ferrell and Luke Wilson for Old School in 2003. It was a moderate hit but it led to Vaughn being cast in the summer sleeper hit Dodgeball: An Underdog Story which grossed $100 million in 2004, leading to the comedy blockbuster Wedding Crashers with Luke's brother Owen Wilson in 2005, which up until this past summer and The Hangover was the highest-grossing R-rated comedy. Since then, Vaughn was teamed with Jennifer Aniston for The Break-Up and Reese Witherspoon for last year's Four Christmases, both becoming huge hits and furthering Vaughn's career as a box office draw. The question is whether Vaughn has reached the point of saturation with doing the same schtick in every movie, something that has greatly hurt Will Ferrell's career in recent years, and one wonders how much of this movie is just Swingers in a different setting.

Meanwhile, after writing Swingers, Favreau moved behind the camera to direct the thematic follow-up Made (produced by Billingsley) then he had a huge hit with Will Ferrell's Elf, which made him a go-to director. His next movie Zathura bombed, but it was followed by last year's mega-blockbuster Iron Man, which has made Favreau a fan-favorite among mainstream moviegoers. Since making Swingers and Made, Favreau has often appeared in many of Vaughn's comedies--it's somewhat surprising that he even has time--including key roles in The Break-Up and last year's Four Christmases, although with Couples Retreat, Favreau also co-wrote the movie, which makes it more of a Swingers reunion than some of those other others. (Favreau also appeared in the spring comedy hit I Love You, Man, further showing how the success he's achieved as a director has helped his acting career.)

This isn't necessarily a buddy comedy like Vaughn's biggest hit Wedding Crashers, which teamed him with Owen Wilson, instead being more in the situational comedy vein as The Break-Up and Four Christmases. Unlike those movies, Vaughn doesn't necessarily have a strong leading lady who has already proven herself to be a box office draw, but both Malin Akerman and Kristen Bell have been on the verge of exploding as comedy stars in recent years with both of them already having tropical holiday comedies under their belts. Akerman starred opposite Ben Stiller in his remake of The Heartbreak Kid and that bombed on this exact same weekend two years ago, while Kristen Bell, who first got attention for her role as "Veronica Mars," appeared opposite Jason Segel in his own tropical paradise comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which ended up doing significantly better. Akerman most recently starred in Zack Snyder's Watchmen, but otherwise, she's mainly done comedies whether it's playing Katherine Heigl's sister in the hit 27 Dresses or having a small role in the summer comedy hit The Proposal.

They also got Jason Bateman in the movie, but that's only because Bateman is contractually obligated to appear in every single movie made... or maybe it just seems that way.

One thing that really works well for Couples Retreat is that it's a situational comedy. A lot of different people, particularly 20 and 30 somethings of both genders, will be able to relate to the idea of having gone to a resort vacation spot with their spouses or significant others and met all sorts of strange individuals. Those who haven't might still find the idea funny, maybe because they've always wanted to go on one of those escapist vacations. A lot of the comedy of going to tropical resorts was played with in some of the movies mentioned above and it's clear that having such a simple and easy-to-sell premise definitely helps get people into theaters. The big difference is that it's not being released in the summer or over Thanksgiving like some of Vaughn's previous hits, and generally, October is a strange time to release this sort of movie, as seen by how Stiller's movie flopped in the month two years ago.

Universal has done a really good job selling comedies in recent years, particularly with the movies of Judd Apatow and others like last year's Role Models, although this summer they hit a stumbling block as both Apatow's latest Funny People and Sacha Baron Cohen's Brüno fumbled. Couples Retreat is a good chance for Universal to get back on track with their comedy hits, and it should benefit greatly from its PG-13 rating--yeah, we know we said that about Surrogates--which will allow teens to go see it as a group. The movie also benefits greatly from being the only new movie released this weekend, similar to The Break-Up. Opening with absolutely no competition in terms of new movies is always a strong indicator that a movie should do well, since outside New York and L.A. there are no new options. Sure, some people might use the weekend to catch up on movies they missed or just take the weekend off, but Couples Retreat should continue Vaughn's successful run of opening comedies due to the appeal of his snarky humor to a fairly wide demographic.

Why I Should See It: Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau have proven many times that they can be very funny when they work together and this is the type of simple premise that will allow them to do what they do best.
Why Not: But can Vaughn do something different, especially when treading on ground that's been covered by other comedies in recent years?
Projections: $25 to 28 million opening weekend and roughly $75 million total or slightly more.

COMPARISONS



THE CHOSEN ONE (S):

This week was a tough one, because there were two really good movies that we saw and liked at the Sundance Film Festival. In fact, both films premiered at the Egyptian, and both are period pieces that look at very different sides of British life. With that in mind, we're going for the rare two-for-one this week. (It's also interesting to note there's another biopic about an infamous British personality this week, that being The Damned United starring Michael Sheen.)

An Education (Sony Classics)
Starring Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike, Olivia Williams, Emma Thompson, Cara Seymour, Matthew Beard, Sally Hawkins
Directed by Lone Scherfig (Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself, Italian for Beginners); Written by Nick Hornby (author of "About a Boy," "High Fidelity" and "Fever Pitch"--all of which have been made into films)
Genre: Drama
Rated PG-13
Plot Summary: When 16-year-old British schoolgirl Jenny (Carey Mulligan) ends up in a relationship with the significantly older David (Peter Sarsgaard), putting her dedication to getting good grades in order to get into Oxford at risk. Surprisingly, Jenny's father (Alfred Molina) who had been pushing her to get into Oxford approves of the relationship, seeing her marrying a well-to-do

My Thoughts from Toronto

Interview with Carey Mulligan

Interview with Lone Scherfig and Nick Hornby

Bronson (Magnolia)
Starring Tom Hardy, Matt King, James Lane, Kelly Adams, Amanda Burton
Directed by Nicholas Winding Refn (The Pusher Trilogy, Fear X); Written by Brock Norman Brock, Nicholas Refn
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Rated R
Tagline: "The Man. The Myth. The Celebrity."
Plot Summary: The story of Charie Bronson nee Michael Peterson (Tom Hardy), who went from petty criminal to becoming known as Britain's most violent and famous prisoner, one who regularly took prison personnel hostage and started violent fights with everyone around him.

Interview with Nicolas Refn Plus Exclusive Clip

To even think that the two movies above might have anything in common might shock some. Besides the fact they both premiered at Sundance at the Egyptian earlier this year, they're also both coming-of-age stories (in a way) set in England during different time periods and settings, as well as both being by Danish directors working in England for the first time. Maybe it was that change in environment that allowed Lone Scherfig and Nicholas Refn to channel something in them that helped produced such beautifully expressive films, but both movies also feature fantastic performances from relatively unknown actors. Few people who walk out of either movie will be able to forget Carey Mulligan's Jenny or Thomas Hardy's Charlie Bronson, the former who is as immediately warm and embraceable as the latter is abrasive and scary.

Based on a 10-page memoir piece by British journalist Lynn Barber, An Education is a terrific portrait of England in the early '60s, as it explores women's roles in British society during that time period through the eyes of a wiser-than-her-age 16-year-old named Jenny whose main focus is getting into Oxford until she encounters Peter Sarsgaard's David, a significantly older charming smooth-talker who through a series of lies, convinces Jenny's father (Alfred Molina) into entrusting him with his teen daughter, first for a concert and dinner and then for a number of weekend trips.

While it might not be immediately apparent that the film's brilliant screenplay is written by novelist Nick Hornby, and it might not be immediately apparent that the guy who has written so many great loner guys could write a female coming-of-age story, but scratch the surface and you'll see plenty of Hornby's distinctive humor, particularly in the male characters around Jenny like her father--just a great all-around performance by Molina--while Jenny's amorous schoolmate Graham will probably grow up to be one of Hornby's protagonists. Scherfig does a fantastic job delivering on this performance heavy piece that's all about how the people around Jenny affect her character development. The movie has really grown on me since first seeing it because the movie finds many layers in the way it explores the world at that time through Jenny's story.

If Scherfig's film could be labeled "quaint and charming" then Refn's portrait of England's most violent prisoner could only be called confrontational and insane. It's by no means a conventional biopic as much as it's a portrait of a man who has become infamous from what would seem to be insane behavior. Even so, Charlie Bronson is a riveting film character for the way he's portrayed by Hardy with a shaved head and a bushy mustache that will remind some of Daniel Day-Lewis' recent characters in There Will Be Blood or Gangs of New York. You just never know what Charlie is going to do next because he's laughing and smiling one second and then shouting and attacking everyone around him the next. Hardy's Bronson is also a remarkable showman, narrating his own story with interstitial bits of himself on stage wearing garish make-up with a delivery somewhat like the M.C. in "Cabaret." (Oh, we should also mention that he spends a good portion of the movie naked, his chosen attire when getting into prison fights.)

Refn does amazing things with the visuals and the music, too--the latter a combination of placid and bombastic classical music with '80s disco that helps elevate the wild duality of this character, violent and out-of-control one minute and then artistic the next. Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange--one of my favorite movies of all time--is an easy in for those looking for comparisons in terms of tone and mood and style.

The two films will clearly appeal to vastly different audiences, and Bronson is not nearly as immediately accessible as An Education, but the fact that I've enjoyed both of these movies equally, which might finally prove how schizophrenic I can be at times.

An Education opens in New York and L.A. on Friday.

Bronson opens in New York on Friday, October 9, and then in L.A. on October 16.

Also in Limited Release:

The Yes Men Fix the World (Studio) – Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, collectively known as "The Yes Men" direct and star in this follow-up documentary to Chris Smith's 2003 film, as they set-up elaborate pranks on large corporations to draw attention to important global issues that are largely being ignored. It opens in New York on Wednesday and then in other cities on October 23.

Mini-Review: Opening with footage of some of the Yes Men's more infamous media appearances, this follow-up to 2003's self-titled doc follows the duo of Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno as they dress up in suits and wilder outfits to pull elaborate pranks on corporations in hopes of getting them to think differently. This time, their targets include Dow, Exxon Mobil and Haliburton, as well as other companies who intentionally profit on the death or misfortune of others, and the results generally make for a better and more entertaining movie than the first one. The idea is that they want to do what it takes to "fix the world" and they start by interviewing individuals who might be able to help them decide where to focus their energies. That ends up being an appearance on the BBC to discuss the Dow Chemical Company's involvement with a chemical disaster in Bhopal, India that would be viewed by 300 million people. They go on and claim that Dow is ready to take responsibility for the tragedy, causing the stock to crash and forcing the BBC to apologize for their part in the hoax. Their pranks are fairly edgy, really pushing the envelope on what they can get people to believe, like one bit where they pretend to represent Exxon Mobil, who are reportedly making candles out humans as a potential new energy source. A later prank involves a convincing-looking facsimile of "The New York Times" filled with completely false news that they hand out to innocent passer-bys. Although the Yes Men do take what they're doing seriously, it sometimes doesn't feel that way, because the movie includes a few staged bits for the sake of entertaining those who are watching their exploits after the fact. It's just as surprising that they're able to get away with as much as they do, because their presentations aren't that strong and the CG animation they use is particularly cheesy; the latter is clearly the movie's weakest link. It's just as surprising that more people don't get mad when their hoaxes raise false hopes that important issues have been resolved. The guys aren't quite as good as Michael Moore either as filmmakers or on-camera talent, and the tone of the movie feels somewhat erratic with background information delivered in a dry and uninspired way, followed by the more entertaining hoaxes being caught on hidden cameras. It's never quite clear what they hope to achieve and besides the BBC broadcast, it's hard to determine whether they're getting any sort of immediate results besides making corporate types uncomfortable for the sake of entertaining moviegoers. Still, if you're interested in what these guys do and how they're able to get such amazing access to people who will believe anything and everything they say, no matter how outlandish or ridiculous, then "The Yes Men Fix the World" definitely shows they're one step closer to achieving their goal. Rating: 7.5/10

Araya (Milestone Films) - Margot Benacerraf's 1959 film about three families living and toiling in the salt marshes of Venezuela's arid Araya peninsula has been restored to make its North American premiere on its 50th Anniversary. It will open for a limited engagement at New York's IFC Center on Wednesday.

The Damned United (Sony Classics) - Michael Sheen plays legendary British soccer manager Brian Clough, who took a weak team in a secondary league to the very top where they faced their rivals Leeds United, who were also the top-ranking team in the country. Years later, when Clough got a job as the manager of Leeds, he discovered that his loudmouth and attitude has made it so that his new team didn't listen or respect him. It opens in New York and L.A. on Friday.

Interview with Michael Sheen

My Thoughts from Toronto

Trucker (Monterey Media, Inc.) - In James Mottern's debut drama, Michelle Monaghan plays Diane Ford, an independent truck driver who has established a routine of drinking and one-night stands before her 11-year-old son Peter (Jimmy Bennett) is left on her doorstep. After playing at last year's Tribeca Film Festival and other festivals where Monaghan's performance received great buzz, it opens at the Village East in New York and other select cities.

Interview with Michelle Monaghan and James Motern

St. Trinian's (NeoClassics Films) - Oliver Parker's film takes place at the famous titular school for girls which is facing a crisis as the bank is threatening foreclosure while the headmistress's old flame, the minister of Education, is determined to bring discipline to the school. Two groups of cliques decided to band together to raise the money to save the school.

Peter and Vandy (Strand Releasing) - Jason Ritter and Jesse Weixler (Teeth) star in Jay DiPietro's indie romantic comedy that jumps back and forth in time in the relationship between a Manhattan couple. And if it sounds a bit like (500) Days of Summer, well, it did play at this year's Sundance Film Festival as well. It opens in select cities this Friday.

Good Hair (Roadside Attractions) - Comedian Chris Rock is the host of this Sundance award-winning doc from Jeff Stilson that looks at hair culture in the African-American community. It will open in select cities on Friday.

Free Style (Samuel Goldwyn Films) - "High School Musical" star Corbin Bleu stars in this inspirational story as Cale Bryant, a young man who is trying to get a spot on the Grand National motocross racing team. Also starring Penelope Ann Miller, Madison Pettis and Sandra Echeverria, it opens in select cities on Friday.

From Mexico with Love (Roadside Attractions) - Kuno Becker (Goal!) plays Hector Villa, an illegal immigrant worker who dreams of being a boxer like his father, but first he has to deal with the harsh realities of working on a ranch in Texas until he gets a chance to fight in a makeshift boxing circuit with fights held in local bars and barns. It opens in 250 theaters on Friday.

Adventures of Power (Variance Films) - The real life Ari Gold, whose name was used for the Jeremy Piven's character in "Entourage," writes, directs and stars in this mockumentary about a mineworker named Power who wants to learn how to play drums, but since his father can't afford them, he instead takes up airdrumming. "Entourage" star Adrian Grenier plays his arch-rival, a millionaire rock drummer who thinks airdrumming is an abomination. Having played to appreciative crowds at last year's Sundance Film Festival, it opens in New York on Friday and then in L.A. on October 16.

Visual Acoustics (Arthouse Films) - The life of late architectural photographer Julius Shulman who captured the work of many greats in the field of modern architecture is commemorated in this doc by Eric Brciker, which is narrated by Dustin Hoffman. It opens at the Cinema Village in New York on Friday.



Next week, Spike Jonze takes on Maurice Sendak's beloved children's book Where the Wild Things Are (Warner Bros.), while Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx face off in the crime-thriller Law Abiding Citizen (Overture) and we get the horror remake The Stepfather (Screen Gems).




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